With huge sums of money being thrown at initiatives that have no impact on or actively worsen the situation for its target users, when it comes to providing cash for something that people have found genuinely useful, (ie: funding for 14- 16 year old HE kids to do part-time college courses) ah well, sorry, no. It's a no go.
Recent changes in funding have made it impossible for many under 16s to get onto part-time college courses or adult education classses that they could easily have accessed only a year or two ago. This can be a big problem for HEKs who want to get GCSE and other qualifications before they reach 16, since paying the going rate of £7 to £8 an hour to the colleges which do accept independently funded under 16 year olds is simply too much for many HEors and doing these exams independently has become so awkward, what with the on-going assessment of course-work that is now involved. Apparently the Learning and Skills Councils don't have the cash and are saying that the money to fund under 16s must come from LEAs. However, LEAs do not get any funding for HEors because HEors aren't on the school roll and LEAs are not prepared to fork out from their general fund.
Education Otherwise have raised this issue with ministers but have not received a reply and are therefore asking home educators who are likely to be affected by the change to write to their MP, Ruth Kelly - er, hold that...I mean Alan Johnson...(thanks Jax), and Jacqui Smith... (Oh actually don't bother with the last one. She's Chief Whip as of yesterday - the Schools Minister's post is still vacant...thanks Julie.)
At least EO have made the actual letter writing simple:
"What we need is for the minister to tell the Learning and Skills councils that they must fund part-time courses for 14-16 year old home educated young peopleas they will for over 16's. You can get contact details for your MP at www.writetothem.com
Points you could make are:
1) The government talks a lot about 14-19 education, about choice, flexibility, etc. To quote, they want to provide " a system where all young people have opportunities to learn in ways which motivate and stretch them".
2) Your child is eager to access qualifications to prepare him/her for work or further study at 16 but does not wish to forgo the benefits of home education which has worked well for him/her thus far by enrolling full-time at a school.
3) Part-time courses are a good introduction to formal classroom experience for young people who have had little or no experience of school, OR they are a good way of reintroducing classroom experiences to young people who had to leave school because of school related stress, bullying, etc (depending on your circumstances).
4) In the past home-educated young people under 16 have frequently attended part time college courses and adult education classes at community colleges as a route to acquiring GCSE and other qualifications. They have usually done well and were able to go on to further study post 16.
5) Your child would like to attend a part-time course this year, next year, in the near future, in the next couple of years (or any other timing) but you cannot find a college willing to take him/her OR you cannot afford the fee OR you understand that this will be a problem. Please contact me either on or off list if you'd like more information."
I have to admit that the prospect of begging is not appealing. On the other hand, what are we saying here? That HE teens must go into school to get their qualifications? Hmmm. On balance, I reckon I'll be writing that letter.